It is widely known that all surgical instruments are always sterilized before each use. We all must have this question in our mind – why is it done with such attention without fail? Doctors constantly sterilize their instruments before using them, even in minor operations like sebaceous cyst removal, incision and drainage of a localized infection, mole removal, etc. This blog will teach you the whole process and the reasoning behind it.  

Importance of Sterilising surgical instruments:  

During every surgery, all the surgical instruments used come in contact with the patient’s tissues on the operated organ. Organs always contain mucous membranes on their inner linings. Hence it is to be expected that there is a certain amount of risk with these instruments carrying pathogenic microbes. And these microbes can potentially cause infection over that particular operated area. Although there are host barriers within our body, with a lack of sterilization and disinfection of every used surgical instrument, there is an increased risk of infection.   


There are several methods of sterilizing surgical instruments:  

  • Cleaning involves removing dust, soil, or any particles settled on the concerned instrument. This reduces the number of organisms that have decided on the surface.   
  • Disinfection – This process involves removing most of the pathogenic organisms. Its only exception is bacterial spores that are produced by fungi and bacteria.  
  • Sterilization removes all microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria, and spores.   


How do sterilize medical instruments?   

The risk of spread of infection decides the selection of which surgical instrument is to be sterilized. Sterilization is necessary before using any critical medical device that will come in contact with sterile tissues. It is highly recommended to sterilize instruments that are involved in areas like mucous tissues, soft tissues, and bones. For example – scalpel blades, bone chisels, surgical burs, extraction forceps, and periodontal scalers.   



 There are two types of Sterilisation processes –  

1)  Autoclave – In this method, items that are supposed to be sterilized are placed in a vessel that contains high pressure. The necessary factors considered while autoclaving are: time, temperature, and steam quality.   


There are five steps of autoclaving –  

  • Place the item to be sterilized in the vessel and ensure that the door is firmly locked.  
  • The air gets removed from the chamber by a vacuum pump.   
  • Let the temperature rise to a sufficient level for the formation of steam   
  • The steam thereby kills all pathogenic microbes and bacteria that have settled on the surgical instruments.   
  • After the stream is released, the door is opened, and the items are ready to use.   


      2) Cold sterilization – Semi-critical items are dipped in EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) approved chemicals in this method. The substances commonly used in this process are glutaraldehyde, peracetic acid, and hydrogen peroxide-based solutions. Single-used items are not to be sterilized in this process.  

Cold sterilization is the preferred method in terms of sterilizing individual instruments. But it is still widely recommended that medical and dental facilities use the hotter alternative because it is more efficient than the cold sterilization method. Also, the cold sterilization method holds some safety concerns since this process includes potentially harmful substances that can cause adverse effects on human skin.   


Benefits of Sterilization of Medical Equipment:  

  • It decreases the pathogenic load   
  • It ensures the safe transportation of equipment to be packed for sterilization and disinfection.   
  • It prevents the corrosion of expensive and highly accurate tools with detailed uses.  
  • Such preventive measures increase the safety of using instruments that deal with the inner linings of the organs.   
  • Removes the breeding surface area of the survived pathogens.   


Such machines that deal with the sterilization of surgical instruments are manufactured with high accuracy. It is essential to ensure that this machinery will work efficiently as it is a sensitive issue. Symec Engineers Private limited   have been India’s one of most prominent process equipment manufacturers. And they also have ensured the accuracy needed for such tasks.